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Mansur Rahman

Hi Bob,

Just had an interesting thought - someone like Steve Jobs might probably display a couple, if not more, of these traits. However, since he is a charismatic leader, how does one take a call on this? Does it have to be a compromise to be able to work (with an aim of picking up some of the excellent attributes) with a brilliant individual but 'bad' boss? SJ is only to be used as an example, the question extends, of course, to all such bosses - brilliant at their niche skills, but nevertheless certifiable you-know-what.

R. Tom Saxton

Thanks for this article. I can relate a lot to #2 since face time i feel is more adequate since there leaves less room for miscommunication.

Scott Moreno

I agree 100% with your views Bob. Becoming a boss requires a certain mindset and skills that are necessary not only to get the job done, but influence and lead your team along the way. I believe that #2 on the list is a direct indication of a bad boss, because if you cannot talk to your employees, how can you talk to upper management, co-workers, or customers for that matter. A good boss should be able to make goals, take action, and convey their thoughts to their team members, even when it might consist of negative information. I am all about Positive Leadership and Progressive Management.


What strikes me about #4 is the total disconnect between the long hours and results.

Justin Hong


Thanks for the post, and great stuff as usual. I think that #s 2 and 3 really stem from #5 -- and it's not just yelling at people -- it's just treating people without the dignity and respect that they deserve.

If you treat people like garbage, they're going to do what they can to avoid being in your presence (e.g. not talking to you face-to-face and being out "sick").

It's really difficult to inspire and motivate a group of people who just don't like you.

Greg Ryan

Thank you for the post. I really think that these are good signs to predict if you are a bad boss. Along with number 4, I think that number 3 has a lot to say about how you treat your people and my be the easiest one to help a person realize that they are a bad boss.

Sera Shioda

Hi Bob,

In my opinion, especially #4,most of these bad behaviors in a team root from lack of passion and belief in a value system that holds up a company. I am an MBA student and recently read a book on how important it is for a boss to not only inspire the team but live by the values and image of the company themselves- this requires them to actually believe in it. When there are a set of company values that are posted on a wall and looked over day-by-day, when the bosses actions do not even match those values, it is obvious to the team. They have no reason to live up to such standards when their supposed role-model does not. Therefore performance and results are mediocre and people do not go the extra mile- the work environment emits this bad air. I see a pattern in bad bosses that become frustrated with lack of coherency in the team: they want to put the blame elsewhere then on themselves, and they think if they push harder deadlines and hours there should be forced results. I compare this to trying to study with little sleep- it just takes longer to accomplish everything because the focus is not there. Better results are not guaranteed. Burnt out employees get even more burnt out the further they are pushed. Basically it is a pitiful domino effect that will never amount to willing, positive performance and results.

As for the yelling, I believe even negative attention can be productive in some cases, if done right. This is because the boss would not waste his time if he did not care. Also, some people are so passionate that they have to exude that in their voice by yelling. I know my mother is just that way, she will practically yell when she really wants to get across an important thought, even if I am right in front of her. I constantly have to remind her, "I'm right here. I can hear you!" It has become a family joke, and we can laugh about it because I know she is that way because she truly cares.

Brandon Jones

It is amazing how many leaders/bosses show at least one of five signs of a bad boss. These types of bosses never ask for feedback from people to overcome their weaknesses so they continue to make the same mistakes. Receiving feedback and acting on it is the only way bosses can overcome these signs. Thanks, Brandon


In my opinion, almost 95% of all my bosses violate the rule# 4. There may be many reasons to blame but I think the following are some of the reasons

Boss may not have enough domain or technical skills to predict the deadline.
Boss doesn’t want to do disagree with the sales man who bid for the project.
Boss doesn’t want to look insecure in front the top management by disagreeing with an unreasonable deadline.
Boss doesn’t want to consult with the team. If the team overestimates the boss will be in trouble meeting the deadline.
Boss is smart enough to find the hard working and committed person to get his job done.
Boss knows how to compromise on quality and documentation to meet the dead line.
Boss knows there will always be a scope creep in the future to extend the dead line.
Boss knows how to get additional resource when the dead line becomes closer.


One of worst former bosses really had #4 down to an art. He was always agreeing to super-short deadlines but that was not worst thing he did.

If the deadline was completely reasonable; he would sit on it until deadline became unreasonable. Then he would communicate it. At first we did not know he was doing this. However, once we figured it out, it really poisoned everyone's attitude.

Eventually, I started asking him if there are any new projects or deadlines. He would always say "no". I could usually tell when he was lying. Whenever I caught him lying, I would keep probing until he would tell us about the new project or deadline. That's the only thing that kept things from totally falling apart. 50% of his staff quit within 1st year. The other 50% would have left too but he quit the company before they could.

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